He is considered to be the one who can garner enough votes to succeed Mahmoud Ahamdinejad, the outgoing Iranian President. A moderate Muslim cleric, Hassan Rohani has also served as the Islamic Republic`s nuclear negotiator. Notably, with the support of Iran’s pro-reform leaders (Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani), Rohani is the only moderate left in the presidential race.
Rohani was backed by reformists after Rafsanjani was disqualified during the vetting process and Mohammad-Reza Aref withdrew from the race on the insistence of Khatami. The path to presidency won`t be easy for Rohani, keeping in mind the fact that the Iranian regime remains opposed to a president supported by reformists. In fact, some of the thousands of supporters attending the campaign rallies led by Rohani in Tehran were arrested.
According to reformist politician, Mohammad-Sadegh Javadi-Hesar: “Mr Rohani is now a compromise candidate and part of reformists’ efforts to reach some kind of reconciliation with the regime over their minimum demands."
During his campaign to establish a “government of hope and prudence”, Rohani vowed to “reconcile with the world”. He may well dream of ending Iran’s isolation at the world stage, but more important – and difficult - for him would be to get the blessings of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader.
Compiled by: Kamna Arora
Iran`s nuclear negotiator since 2007 is another presidential candidate approved by the Guardian Council. Seen as a hardliner close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 48-year-old Jalili is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war. The arch-conservative presidential candidate is known for his absolute devotion to Iran`s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
One of the main slogans of Jalili`s campaign is hayat tayyebe, which means "pious living". According to him, the phrase calls for an absolute belief in the righteousness of Khamenei`s leadership.
In 2001, Jalili was appointed director-general of the office of the Supreme Leader and later, he became an advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is to be noted that Iran`s position in its nuclear talks with the West became more uncompromising after his appointment. As per a US State Department cable released by WikiLeaks, an EU official described Jalili as "a true product of the Iranian revolution".
According to Dr Nima Mina, a senior lecturer in Iranian studies at SOAS, the University of London: "Jalili is consciously constructed as a scarecrow to put the resigned, indifferent and undecided voters in panic and to achieve a high turnout".
Hailed as "living martyr" - he had lost one leg in Iran`s eight-year war with Iraq – Jalili is the youngest candidate in the fray and undoubtedly the front-runner to succeed Ahamdinejad.
Compiled by: Kamna Arora
Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf
Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf is one of the prominent conservative candidates vetted carefully by Iran’s Guardian Council.
A self styled technocrat, Qalibaf is quiet popular in Tehran, where he has been instrumental in fixing many infrastructural loopholes.
Possessing a balanced blend of conservatism and pragmatism, the 52-year-old Mayor has an impressive resume. He has held many significant positions like commander of the Air Force wing of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and national police chief.
A war veteran, Qalibaf ventured into politics in 2005 Presidential Election, which he lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He lost favour after pictures portraying him in a western-style leather jacket appeared in public.
But eight years on, Qalibaf has ingrained in him attributes that would do well to attract Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. For instance, his speeches are laced with Islamic references and reverences to Khamenei.
Though popular for his developmental work, he has also been known for his iron-handed tactics that helped suppress student protests in 1999 and 2003.
He also enjoys the credit of bringing in remarkable police reforms which for the first time allowed women to serve.
Qalibaf in his campaign speeches has focused on fixing Iran’s economy and developing both the rural and urban regions. Seen more as a social liberal candidate, Qalibaf has also talked about speeding up the internet in the country ahead of June 14 presidential elections.
According to a leaked US cable, Qalibaf enjoys special support from Khamenei`s son Mojtaba who is "said to help Qalibaf as an advisor, financier and provider of senior-level political support".
Perceived as energetic and enterprising, Qalibaf may just succeed to sail above other contenders in the race for the top job.
Compiled by: Supriya Jha
Ali Akbar Velayati
Foreign policy advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei since 1997, Ali Akbar Velayati is a veteran conservative political figure in Iran. Having served as foreign minister of Iran for 16 years, Velayati has emerged as one of the top contenders in the Presidential race.
Seen as extremely loyal to Khamenei, Velayati is dubbed as “Mr May I” as he supposedly takes the permission of the Supreme Leader before every single move.
Born in 1945, Velayati grew up to become a medical doctor. In his early days he joined the secular National Front movement. However, he became Ayatollah Khamenei’s follower post the 1979 revolution.
He was elected as a member of the Parliament from his home town in the elections held later that year. The US-trained doctor then was appointed the deputy health minister (1980-81). He later served as the foreign minister from 1981 to 1997. After 1997, Velayati was appointed foreign affairs adviser to Khamenei and is now counted amongst his most influential aides.
Velayati enjoys the tag of being the longest-serving minister in Iran since 1979 revolution and has served under the crucial Iraq war (1980-88) times.
Though very loyal to Khamenei, Velayati is also dubbed to be very close to the Supreme Leader’s rival and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
If the leaked US cables are to be believed, Velayati has in the past manoeuvered bids to establish direct relations of Khamenei with France and Saudi Arabia. He is also believed to emerge as a pivotal figure in case Iran seeks to mend ties with the US.
Belonging to the “principalist" camp and being fiercely loyal to Khamenei are the two factors that would work in Velayati’s favour. Also, he is seen as enjoying an upper hand over another conservative contender Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who is seen more as an independent innovator.
And in Iran, as it is well known, Khamenei would prefer a leader who wouldn’t threaten the Supreme Leader’s supremacy.
Compiled by: Supriya Jha
Four years after losing the 2009 presidential elections in Iran, Mohsen Rezaee is back in the fray, this time directing his focus on economic issues. Rezaee is an important figure in the polity of Iran and was once one of the most powerful leaders in the country.
His rise began after he took over as the chief commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in 1981. Rezaee became the chief commander of Iran’s vital force at the age of 27, and continued to be in the office for 16 years, after which he announced his retirement from all military posts.
Born on September 09, 1954 to a religious nomadic family, Rezaee began his political and cultural struggle against the Shah regime in the country at a young age. He had to serve five months in solitary confinement at the age of 17.
Initially a student of mechanical engineering at Iran University of Science and Technology, Rezaee changed his stream to economics after the Iran-Iraq war, studying at Tehran University. He continued to be at Tehran University till 2001, where he received his PhD.
Rezaee later co-founded the Imam Hossein University and continues to teach there even now.
Rezaee has allegedly been involved in the July 1994 suicide bombing at the Jewish cultural centre in Argentina, which killed 85 people and injured over 150 others. Later in 1998, his son, Ahmad, moved to the US and reportedly told the authorities that the attack was planned in Tehran and his father was also involved. However, he later returned to Iran to declare that his statements against his father were baseless. Since 2007, Rezaee has been on the wanted list of Interpol.
The former chief commander Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had first entered the fray for the presidential elections in Iran in 2005. He, however, withdrew just two days ahead of the polling, claiming he wanted integration of the votes. Bizarrely, he did not, officially, back any candidate after withdrawing his candidature.
He later contested the 2009 presidential polls but lost behind Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and runner-up Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
This time, his campaign focuses on economic issues. He has assured that he will grant aides to all sectors – agriculture, tourism, industry, mining. Rezaee’s campaign talks about intentions to diversify the Iranian economy.
Another important aspect of his campaign is that he wants to induct people from all Iranian ethnic groups in his cabinet.
Compiled by: Shobhit Sujay
Mohammad Gharazi is the oldest candidate in the Iranian presidential elections. Born on October 5, 1941, Gharazi is contesting the elections as an independent candidate.
Gharazi was first elected to the Iranian Parliament in 1980, and went on to become the Minister of Petroleum in the cabinet of Mir-Hossein Mousavi. He quit the post in 1985 to become the Minister of Communication, which was then named Minister of Post. He held the post till 1997.
He pursued his MSc in Electronics from Tehran University, following which he went to France.
Later, Gharazi was arrested for his involvement anti-Shah protests in Tehran, and remained in prison for three years. He went on to become the Minister of Oil in 1981. Following his tenure as the oil minister, Gharazi became the minister of post, telegraph and telephone and remained in office till 1997.
Gharazi’s has promised the people of Iran an “anti-inflation” government if elected and his campaign has its focus on various economic issues.
During his campaign, Gharazi has claimed that previous presidents of Iran have not used the might of the country’s constitution. According to him, the constitution of the country has enough potential to tackle various issues. He has also said that the potential of the constitution and the nation can satisfy all needs of the administration, including the economic ones.
Another important aspect of his campaign is his assurance to decentralise power if elected. Gharazi has assured that if elected, he would let his governors be elected through popular votes, and would allow people to manage their affairs themselves.